Sovereignty and a New Reality

August 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Palestinian Recognition at the U.N.

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO

Washington–Your reporter has devoted much time to the (progressive) Israeli position on any possible peace discussion with the rightful Arab claimants to the Holy Land.  The Palestine Center, housed in the American capital city, has given your narrator the opportunity to voice the opposing Palestinian position on their march to recognition towards their legitimate status at next month’s meeting at the United Nations.

“Ambassador” Maen Areikat gave a formal speech on his “country’s” formal position on a potential declaration next month of his country’s independence in New York City a month ago here in the District of Columbia with the most knowledgeable legal expert on Ramallah’s right for national agency, Professor John Quigley.  

This, presented in July, was part of the Palestine Center’s public examination of what they termed “The Arab Spring becomes the Palestinian Autumn” — something your scribe does not as yet subscribe.

“Ambassador” (your raconteur only puts parenthesis around his title because Areikat represents a stateless State, and his credentials may not be officially recognized here in D.C.) Mean Areikat is the main PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) representative in the U.S. officially commissioned with the rank of Ambassador by President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian National Authority (PA). 

He has held high positions in negotiating teams and delegations with the Israeli occupiers.   Maen, also, served as Desk Officer over English-speaking powers within the PA’s Orient House’s International Relations Department.

From your author’s recent research on Israel, the attitude of the Palestinians going directly to the U.N. on Manhattan’s River for an official acknowledgment of their natural entitlement is anathema to Tel Aviv.  As John Quigley pointed out, the Israeli parliament (or Knesset) recognized the PLO as  representing a State by recognizing the legitimacy of the Oslo Accords or the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arraignments or more succinctly the Declaration of Principles (DOP) of September 13th 1993.  Further, under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, the Turks under their then Ottoman Empire ceded their former territories (including Palestine) as States to the (former) League of Nations who gave them in trust to the victorious (post-)World War I European Empires as temporary Mandates. 

Erekat noted, whatever,  the Security-Council does not have the right to recognize or deny nationhood, but it must be passed by two-thirds of its members to be sent on to the General Assembly (GA) , but, if it does pass the initial hurdle, it will most likely be bureaucratically shunted into a Committee.  Here, this Committee can be slowed down in referring it to the General-Assembly. 

The leading legal expert on this process this process is Professor John Quigley of Ohio State University in Columbus.  Besides the law, Quigley’s interests includes human rights; and, thus, Palestine.

Professor Quigley simply states that, after the matter has been referred to the General-Assembly without obfuscations, the Security-Council has to defend their position on whether to grant Statehood or not to the G.-A.   This can actually go back and forth between the two bodies for some time.

The Ambassador showed that it is only the G.-A. that can bestow the legal status of Statehood, and that standing can have several different levels.  Under the U.N. Charter the U.S. can’t say  “We don’t like it [our bid], or give Israel more time to make peace.”  Both of these are invalid under the United Nations’ Charter. 

There is a question of what exactly is legally binding because the Charter is ambiguous here:  It is not clear whether the General Assembly has the authority to admit a country into the U.N. without the Council’s approval to do so, and there has been no precedent to establish it one way or the other.  To continue the pun we are proceeding on uncharted ice.

Only Israel is claiming that this move is unilateral.  It is not so, as the Ambassador declares, “ We are going for full admission into the United Nations to be acknowledged as a sovereign entity!”    In the General Assembly the Palestinians only require a plurality of fifty (percent) plus one.  Debate is proceeding back home in Ramallah on which course to proceed.  According to the District of Columbia, the U.S. insists that Palestinian State’s status should only come through negotiation, but negotiations for Tel Aviv denotes the avoidance of the two-country agreement whereas Palestine advocates a dual realm resolution by fighting against the unjust Settlements.  The real cost of the Occupation is borne by the international commune.  This is “Not an effort to isolate Israel,” for “We are committed to non-violent peaceful resistance, but we shall not tolerate the Occupation!”

The Right Honorable Maen Areikat continued, “The only way we shall reconsider [this bid for recognition] is if the community of nations can guarantee our security; then, discussions can go on in good faith.”

Quigley, further, adds that, if Palestine achieves its place amongst the family of sovereign states, the War Crimes committed against the Canaanites can be brought before the International Court under the Treaty of Rome of 2003.

If Palestine would be welcomed into that august body on the Hudson, then, as a sovereign nation, “We would have [to have] responsibilities,” too, Areikat stated.  “We would [then] have to follow the U.N. Charter,”  Conversely, “The Quartet [the  nations acting as interlopers between Tel Aviv and Ramallah – the United States, the United Kingdom (U.K.), the Russian Federation, the European Union (EU) and the United Nations  as a coordinator] is concerned about [this forthcoming] September[‘s confrontation], for [it is bound] to be more favorable to the Arabs.  It is a foregone conclusion that Ramallah will gain the fifty plus one in the General Assembly guaranteeing a Palestinian nation, but alternatively, they can merely grant Observer  Status; but, thereby, we shall gain international legality,” also.

Areikcat said, “We may just be headed for New York  as a rouse..[but we have the ]the right to tell…people our options!”  Concluding, “We can move towards independence!…We have rights under the U.N. “  Then, “We can move forward towards [true] Independence…We’ll have our rights under the U.N.!”  There “will be a change in international relations.  In 1948,Israel agreed to be a neighbor of a bordering Arab State.  The PLO’s position is a two-State solution!”  Ultimately, the agreement will be made between the Palestinians and the Israelis.  Although there is EU support, His Excellency felt the European vote is in question.

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Libya’s Misrata Hit; China Shifts Toward Rebels

June 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Matt Robinson

LIBYA/
Rebel fighters sit at the frontline in Ajdabiyah June 22, 2011. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany

MISRATA, Libya (Reuters) – Libya’s rebels gained on the diplomatic front Wednesday by securing China’s recognition as a “dialogue partner,” but suffered on the battlefield where Muammar Gaddafi’s forces were able to shell their stronghold of Misrata.

Four months into the uprising, and three months since NATO war planes joined their fight to topple Gaddafi, the rebels are making only slow gains in their march on the capital Tripoli. But they have made steady progress winning support abroad and isolating Gaddafi on the international stage.

“China sees you as an important dialogue partner,” Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi told Mahmoud Jibril, diplomatic chief of the Benghazi-based rebel National Transitional Council, who visited Beijing. The comments were published in a statement on the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s website (www.mfa.gov.cn).

“(The Council’s) representation has been growing stronger daily since its establishment, and it has step-by-step become an important domestic political force,” Yang said, adding China was worried about the Libyan people’s suffering.

The comments came hours after Gaddafi’s forces landed rockets in the center of Misrata for the first time in several weeks. No one was reported hurt by that strike, but it undermined a relative sense of security among residents who believed that a siege on the city had been broken last month.

NATO and the rebels hope that Gaddafi’s diplomatic and economic isolation will eventually bring his government down.

Exports of oil have ceased, depriving Gaddafi’s government of the funds it used during peacetime to provide the population with heavily subsidized food and fuel. Petrol queues in Gaddafi -held areas now stretch for miles.

In a sign of the increasing impact of the crisis on daily life, Gaddafi’s state media issued instructions ordinary people should follow “to deal with the fuel shortage.”

They called on people to use public transport instead of cars, avoid using air conditioning when driving and stick to 90-100 kph as the ideal speed. They also asked Libyans to be patient when queuing at petrol stations.

At least three explosions were heard in Tripoli Wednesday but it was not clear where or what caused them.

Rebels Seek Recognition

Winning international recognition could eventually help the rebels secure access to frozen Libyan funds, and the right to spend money earned by exporting the country’s oil.

China is the only veto-wielding permanent member of the U.N. Security Council that has yet to call for Gaddafi to step down, after Russia joined Western countries last month in calling for him to leave power.

Beijing, never very close to Gaddafi, hosted Libya’s Foreign Minister Abdelati Obeidi this month. Courting the rebels has marked a policy adjustment for China, which generally avoids entangling itself in other nations’ domestic affairs.

At least eight European and Arab governments have said they recognize the rebel council as the sole legitimate representative of the Libyan people. Other countries have allowed the rebels to set up representative offices.

The Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) — a Saudi-based grouping of 57 Muslim countries — said a delegation arrived Wednesday to mediate. It would meet the rebels in Benghazi and Gaddafi officials in Tripoli, a statement said.

Misrata Attack

Rebels drove loyalist forces out of the third-biggest city Misrata in mid-May and are using it as a base for an advance westwards on Tripoli. Gaddafi forces’ ability to hit it with shells early Wednesday is a setback in a city that had experienced relative calm after months of siege and fighting.

More rockets fell later in the day in the sparsely-populated El-Araidat neighborhood near the port. Residents said no one was hurt and a Reuters reporter saw only several dead sheep lying in a field after the attack.

“Everyone is worried. We don’t know where to go anymore. Only when I die will I be safe,” said Mohammed Mabrouk, who lives near one of two houses hit by the first rocket rounds. Two more landed in open areas.

Fighting has been largely on Misrata’s far western and eastern edges, where the rebel army is sustaining heavier casualties by the day from the better-equipped and better-trained government forces.
Rebels have been trying to advance west toward the town of Zlitan, where Gaddafi’s soldiers are imposing a tight siege. Libyan television said Wednesday that “dozens” of people were killed in Zlitan after NATO naval ships shelled the town.

The report could not be independently verified because foreign reporters have been prevented from entering Zlitan. NATO normally comments on its Libya operations the following day.
If the Libyan television report is confirmed, it could further complicate the mission of the NATO-led military alliance, whose credibility has been questioned after it admitted Sunday killing civilians in a Tripoli air strike.

Gaddafi’s government says more than 700 civilians have died in NATO strikes. However, it has not shown evidence of such large numbers of civilian casualties, and NATO denies them.

A rebel spokesman called Mohammed told Reuters from Zlitan that NATO had been hitting government military targets in the town on an almost daily basis. He said Gaddafi’s soldiers used artillery positions in Zlitan to fire salvoes toward Misrata.

“We hear the sound of artillery fire every night,” he said.

Four rebel fighters were killed and 60 others were wounded in fighting with government forces Tuesday in Dafniya, which lies between Zlitan and Misrata. Eleven rebel fighters were killed there a day earlier.

Rebels are trying to inch toward Tripoli from Misrata, east of the capital, and from the Western Mountains region to its southwest. The going has been tough.

“Gaddafi’s forces have moved forward about a kilometer,” Dr Mohammed Grigda said at the field hospital in Dafniya just outside Misrata. It was impossible to verify the information but a Reuters reporter in Dafniya saw that rebel mortar positions had pulled back slightly.

In the Western Mountains, where the rebels made significant gains in recent weeks, NATO launched four air strikes Tuesday against government forces outside the town of Nalut near the border with Tunisia, a rebel spokesman there said. Gaddafi’s soldiers fired 20 rockets into the town, but no one was hurt.

Gaddafi allies denounce the bombing campaign as a foreign attempt to force a change of government and seize the North African state’s oil. NATO states defend the operation as a U.N.-mandated mission to protect Libyan civilians.

(Additional reporting by Nick Carey in Tripoli, Michael Martina and Ben Blanchard in Beijing, Souhail Karam in Rabat, Hamid Ould Ahmed in Algiers, David Brunnstrom in Brussels, Joseph Nasr in Berlin and Ali Abdelatti in Cairo; Writing by Andrew Hammond and Joseph Nasr; Editing by Peter Graff)

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